(NEXSTAR) – Netflix has already signaled that it’s ready to roll out new password-sharing rules in the United States. Changes rolling out in three other countries show what US users could soon expect.
In a letter to shareholders last month, Netflix said it plans to roll out paid account sharing “more widely” towards the end of the first quarter of 2023. The streaming giant estimates that more than 100 million households are sharing accounts. , which “undermines our long-term ability to invest in and improve Netflix.
The executives explained in the letter that they expect some users to cancel their accounts when paid sharing launches, but “borrowing households” will open their own accounts. How paid password sharing will be applied and how much it will cost has not been released.
Netflix has explored ways to crack down on password sharing, including a login verification process in 2021 and the use of subaccounts for people living outside the account owner’s home in 2022.
The latter has been tested in Chile, Costa Rica and Peru. Netflix appears to have rolled out new rules on account sharing in these countries, updating its help pages for all three this week.
According to those pages, anyone in the account holder’s home — called their “primary location” — can use that Netflix account. People outside the home will need to use their own account.
Account holders will need to set their primary location when logged into Netflix on a TV connected to their home Wi-Fi network. Then, all devices connected to the Wi-Fi network at the primary location will be able to access the holder’s Netflix account, while devices trying to access the account from any other location may be blocked. If an account owner doesn’t set their primary location, Netflix automatically sets it using their IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity.
Once a primary location is set, Netflix users are prompted to “watch something at least once every 31 days” to keep their devices associated with the location.
In order to share the Netflix account with someone outside the main location, the company says the account owner can add an additional member to their account for a small fee.
Netflix users in these three countries may also be blocked from streaming on certain devices if they attempt to access the platform while traveling or after moving house. In this case, Netflix says users must either stream something before leaving their primary location to create a “trusted device” or request a temporary passcode to verify their device “and continue watching Netflix for 7 consecutive days.”
It’s unclear how accounts with plans that allow multiple screens would be impacted by these changes. It’s also unclear if Netflix plans to bring the same system to the US — Netflix didn’t immediately respond to Nexstar’s request for comment.
Netflix’s move to crack down on password sharing is a departure from the company’s previous stance. Then-CEO Reed Hastings (he resigned as CEO last month) said in 2016 that Netflix would not charge users for sharing their passwords. Instead, he called password sharing “something you have to learn to live with,” CNBC reports.
Hastings had also never been a fan of the ads, calling them a distraction from the entertainment provided by the service. But, in November, Netflix launched a fourth plan, “Basic with Ads”, which includes an “average of 4-5 minutes of ads per hour”. Users of this plan also do not have access to the full Netflix library.